Company in the news: William Hill

These are tough times for bookmakers, but William Hill is doing all the right things. Phil Oakley explains what that means for the shares.

Being a bookmaker is quite tough these days. Not only is there lots of competition, but the government is looking to clamp down on the industry. To survive and thrive in this environment you have to be good at keeping your customers happy. William Hill (LSE: WMH)looks like it is doing lots of things right.

This week's trading update revealed that the business isdoing very nicely. Sports betting boosted by the WorldCup has been very kind to William Hill.

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The profits of the online business have more than doubled compared tolast year, while high-street profits rose by nearly a third. Overseas ventures in Australia and Italy are also doing well. The company now expects profits for 2014 to be at the top endof City analysts' expectations.

One of the things I like about William Hill is its ability togenerate lots of cash. As a result, net debt fell by nearly aquarter last year and we may see a nice dividend increase.I tipped the shares as a buy' back in July at 335p.

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At 363p theyhave performed quite well in a difficult stockmarket. They arenot that expensive on 12 times forecast earnings, but I probablywouldn't chase them now.

Verdict: a solid hold

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